Why I love Paris

May 04, 1994|By Art Buchwald

PARIS — I HAVE come to Paris to see the chestnuts in bloom. There is a knock on the door. A beautiful Frenchwoman in a Chanel suit and a pillbox hat is standing there. "I wish to take you to Chez Taillevent, one of the greatest restaurants in the world."

"But I don't have a reservation," I say.

"You are an American. You don't need a reservation. We have not forgotten what you did for us in the French Revolution."

I put on my jacket and follow her downstairs where her souped-up Peugeot is waiting. Like most French people she doesn't drive too fast or too slow.

"Are you sure you have the right person?" I ask her.

"You are from the United States and that's all that counts," she responds. "We French will never be able to make it up to Americans for giving us airbags."

We arrive at Chez Taillevent, where there is only one parking place. A Frenchman is backing in to it when my escort explains to the driver that I am an American who saved the French franc from going down with the Russian ruble.

He gladly gives up his spot.

The owner of Taillevent and his entire staff are waiting for me. I am ushered to a table where the sommelier suggests that I have a glass of Dom Perignon champagne from the same bottle as Eli Rothschild who is sitting at the next table.

I order a simple meal a dainty cream of caviar soup on which are floating truffles and tiny hearts of goose liver. This is followed by baby lamb cooked in an alligator Hermes handbag, followed by a souffle prepared with unborn strawberries from Provence.

As I am eating, the sommelier brings over a bottle of Chateau Latour 1949 and says, "This is with the compliments of President Mitterrand. He wants you to know that he has not forgotten how the Americans saved Christian Dior from going communist in 1948." I say, "It was the right thing to do."

My guide says, "Don't look now but Catherine Deneuve is coming over to the table."

"But I'm eating," I protest.

Catherine stops by and grinds pepper on my lamb. She looks at me with her gorgeous eyes. "We will always remember that it was the Americans who gave us our own Disneyland."

"If we hadn't, the British would have."

My guide says, "Things might be getting complicated. Here is a note from Jeanne Moreau. She heard that you were in town and wanted to give you a party at the Louvre. It will follow the ceremony where you will be presented with the Legion of Honor for giving France a free Barbra Streisand concert."

The check comes and written across the top is "With the compliments of the director and everyone else in Paris."

I can't believe any of it. Just then the phone rings in my room and the operator says, "It's 8 o'clock. This is your wake-up call."

I say to her, "Was I dreaming?"

She replies, "I don't know, monsieur. You'll have to ask the concierge."

Art Buchwald is a syndicated columnist.

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